Often—usually—we're asked to speak for a certain number of minutes.

If we have ten minutes to speak, how can we avoid a 30-minute talk that has to be edited down?

How can we steer clear of having to rush our to completion when we figure out that we're not going to be able to make our oh-so-important point before the closing bell?

How can we make sure we leave to while the audience laughs or thinks about their answer to one of our provocative questions?

is the key.

Figure 120 words per minute and you'll be pretty close to on-.

For a ten-minute speech, write 1200 words.

For a five-minute speech, write 600 words.

When I work with contest speakers, we start with a written speech and whittle the word-count down before we ever start rehearsing.

The last thing those contestants ever worry about on stage is the status of the -clock.

That's one high-pressure element that's no longer part of the —at least for them.

And if you think you might finish early, it's much easier and less stressful to slow down and add more pauses than it is to try to rush your closing line over the fish line.

Take the worry out of the work.

At 120 words per minute, you'll have time to perform, interact with the room, and get your full message across.